HOMEBOUND – The Things That Kept Me Safe – by Bridget Kennedy
An installation of objects sourced from the artist’s home, exploring absence, anxiety and the meaning of things. Includes two works hand embroidered with snippets of text from conversations overheard by the artist during 2020.
Viewers are invited to participate in the work by sharing (via an online form at the bottom of this page) what keeps them safe. This will then inform further research and developement of new work.
Exhibited as Part of Project 2060: Homeward Bound an Arts & Culture North Sydney event, 2021
During COVID19, there was a significant shift in the way we engaged, interacted and connected with our surrounds and each other. It has been a time of extraordinary flux where we have been forced to re-negotiate the spaces and places we inhabit. Our everyday routines, patterns and behaviours have been challenged, marking a loss for some but a gain for others. Within this change, ideations of the ‘home’ have altered and the boundaries between work, home and play blurred. This recent phenomenon has brought a myriad of unexpected outcomes, changing the way we think, live and connect forever.
Artists who have worked in the Northern Sydney region were invited to participate in the project responding to the curatorial theme.
INFORMATION ON THE OBJECTS EXHIBITED
I seem to have collected a few birds nests over the years. I enjoy how they’re all so different. The oval ‘egg’ is from a beach in Corfu which didn’t have any sand at all – only these beautiful white coral pebbles. The small round egg is a piece of Styrofoam found washed up on the beach. I despair at the amount of plastic that’s accumulated in the ocean but am also drawn to the worn, textural qualities that the material sometimes develops, giving it a misleading organic quality. The Ostrich egg was one of two that I purchased to replace one that my young daughter broke on a day trip to a small private run museum in WA, while visiting my sister. I felt terrible and replaced it as quickly as possible. The remaining one is a reminder of that trip.
My mum and stepdad brought this back to me from one of their trips away. I feel like a terrible daughter because I can’t remember which one. After they retired, they used to travel to countries in the Asia-Pacific region to volunteer their time helping businesses and communities. Mum went to Papua New Guinea and The Philippines as part of Sewaid. I really admired that they didn’t just veg out at home, and thought it a great way to volunteer, share skills and connect with other cultures.
My first ever home made lampshade, embroidered with snippets of text from overheard conversations about lockdown during Covid. I needed a new lampshade for the lounge room and hadn’t been able to find one I liked so decided to make my own. So many people prettied up their homes during lockdown. I was a bit late coming to the party.
This was painted by my eldest daughter when we went on a family camping trip to Murramurang National Park. It was the first time we’d camped at Depot Beach and the kids were young. She thinks its crap but I love the freedom of mark making and think it holds it’s own against many contemporary Australian expressionist landscape artists. It hangs in my bedroom alongside other contemporary work. I can see the beach, the water, the bush and the sky through her eyes.
I can’t remember the name of the artist but the work is titled ‘Paradise/Question I’. It sits in my hallway. I love the quietness of it but it’s also stands as a chilling reminder to me of climate change and the melting icecaps. Sadly, in 2020, the growing movement to take urgent action to mitigate the worst of the effects of Climate Change was understandably sidelined by the pandemic. We have so little time left. One good thing was that global carbon emissions dropped in 2020, the largest absolute drop in emissions ever recorded. Whilst a drop in a single year isn’t enough to stop global warming, there’s a unique opportunity to secure long-term emissions cuts by following an economic recovery aligned with tackling climate change. I don’t think it’s going to happen.
I keep thinking I should compost this but I can’t quite bring myself to yet. This is a reminder of a three generational family holiday we went on to Blue Lagoon Beach Resort in the Yasawa Islands, Fiji. One of the local elders taught my daughters and I some voivoi (pandanas leaf) weaving skills. We each made little squares as well as bracelets.
This is a painting by my youngest daughter. I love the sparseness of the composition, the colours, attention to detail and the placement within the frame of the paper. She painted it when she was 13. It hangs in the lounge room.
Sadly, we lost our magnificent black butt to borer a couple of years ago. Instead of cutting it to the ground, we kept it as a natural habitat. We saved all the wood (including this side table ‘stump’), gave some to friends and kept the rest on site in the form of mulch and lengths of wood to go back into ground from which it came. We had a ‘wake’ to honour the tree’s life. The night before it was to be made into a habitat, I dreamt that a line of indigenous elder ‘ghosts’ marched across and through the property and dividing fencelines, chanting and dancing amidst a mist of smoke. It seemed so real. I’d never had a dream like that before.
If you didn’t know what a QR code was before 2020, you sure do now. Despite being on the market for nearly two decades, it wasn’t until COVID that they really made their mark. They keep us ‘safe’ (and easily trackable). It seems QR Codes and Zoom are here to stay for a while yet.
My sister used to work as a community nurse on aboriginal communities in the Northern Territory. I went out and visited when she was at Daly River. It was a wonderful opportunity to see a different part of the country and spend time with our country’s elders and traditional custodians. I remember it with great fondness. I can’t remember but I think she gave me this. It reminds me of her. Sadly, we’ve grown apart over recent decades.
Every few years I make another of these screens that sit just inside my lounge room window. It’s much better than looking at a brick wall and feeling that I’m on show to the neighbours at night.
I love reading but seem to have less time at the moment. When I do get a chance, I seem to fall asleep after a few pages. I have piles of books I’ve bought still waiting to be read. During lockdown, it was great to have extra time to delve into them.
Well, who’d have thought wearing facemasks would become the norm. This one, based on the pattern of a disposable one, is embroidered with snippets of conversations I overheard during 2020. Sometimes I would hold my breath when walking past people…now that we don’t seem to have any community transmission, I don’t do it anymore. I feel sad about all the waste that’s been generated during the time of Covid. I made my own masks and if I got caught out and was given a disposable one, I’d keep it and wash it.
My daughter doesn’t think much of this nose. She made it when she started high school as part of an art project. I think it’s fabulous! Now she’s in year 12 and doing ceramics as her art major work.
This work , ‘What is a Fence Without a Post’ is from a series I made for a show titled ‘Absence’. The works were about people important to me who had died. My step dad helped me drill a hole into the hardwood fence paling. He was always incredibly supportive of my practice and like a second dad to me. A week after the opening (which he came to), he was accidentally killed crossing the road. His death has left a big hole in my heart.
The picture of the tabua (on the right) was presented to my father when he was a magistrate in Fiji. It hangs next to an artwork which reminds me of my stepdad, together these objects represent the father figures in my life. I spent my early childhood in Fiji. I have memories of him taking me on trips to the local villages, the feeling of woven mats under my feet, the smell of coconut oil in hair, shimmying up coconut trees to knock down the fruit, eating green mangoes with salt, tasting cava, and the dark insides of village Bures. The memories I have of him are of this time. He died when I was 6. I wish I’d been able to know him a bit better.
This porcelain piece was made by a friend of mine who’s work I admire, Shirley Cho. She had an exhibition at The Projectspace a few years ago, and spent some time in the gallery with me. We had lots of fun together and drank Berocca drinks. She didn’t have an online presence but I convinced her to setup an instagram account for her art. Her work is quiet and poetic, yet contains such strength and refinement. I love stroking the hand.
This Flokati rug reminds me of my childhood and Corfu, where I spent some time as a young adult. It reminds me of Margaret. She used to have them as throws over her couch, as well as on the floor. When I had to clear out her house, it had been locked up for many, many months and the flokati rugs were so rotten they had to be scraped off the ground with a shovel.
I was given this snake vertebrae headpiece to wear at the marriage ceremony to my husband, an Igorot Filipino. We were married on a hilltop above the clouds in Sagada, his hometown. It was an incredible experience, the gongs were played and we fed over 1000 people in the village. It’s now known as ‘The Wedding Hill’. Last year he was supposed to go back and visit his mum but then the world changed. We worry about her as she’s in a vulnerable age group.
This was given to me by one of my oldest friends. I had my hip replaced during Covid. She gave it to me a while after the operation. Said it reminded her of me because it looks like a hip bone. I could only have one visitor at a time in the hospital and lots of friends got in touch to see how I was and came to visit me at home and helped me out. I felt a bit sad because I didn’t hear from my old friend for ages but it’s one of those friendships where I tend to be the person who makes initial contact. I feel like we’ve drifted apart since Covid.
The marble egg was Margaret’s. She was like a mother, sister, friend and fairy godmother all rolled into one. She never had children. It sits on a metal washer which my husband found and brought back from Broken Hill, and little nest of my daughter’s hair. Both my daughters went through a stage of ‘collecting’ when they were young. Both collected little piles of their hair for a while. I like how it looks like a birds nest.
My hands became so dry during the peak of Covid. All that handwashing and disinfecting! This hand cream was given to me by one of my lovely uni interns at the Projectspace. I found it nurturing, both physically and emotionally and it smelt great!
We often made these clove/orange balls as kids to give as Christmas gifts and I love how they shrink down into these textured, orange and clove sensory balls, although they did make your fingers sticky and it hurt a bit pushing the cloves in. I made them a couple of times with the kids when they were younger. This one I saved and it sits on sideboard in the hallway. I feel a little sad now that the girls are older and the main object they interact with physically is their phone.
One of these was my mum’s. She was getting rid of it. It was one of those objects I remember strongly from my childhood so I saved it from vinnies. When I was tasked with the cleaning out of the house of a dear family friend’s property after her death, I discovered that she had a similar one. I brought it back as a memento and discovered that they’d purchased them at a similar time. I like to think it represents their friendship together when they were younger.
These three woven vessels were made by me as part of a larger work ‘A Year of Time’ where I invited people to exchange handwoven objects for the price of the same amount of time it had taken me to make them. My husband exchanged time organising a road trip to Tasmania for the two of us, for these three vessels. We had a lovely time together. Tasmania is so beautiful.
An artwork by Will Coles. This reminds my of my time as part of the family at 2 Danks Street, working out of Studio 20/17. I feel like its a respite from what sometimes seems like an overwhelming bombardment of advertising and noise from media. For a while, this was the only television we had. The kids weren’t impressed but they got used to it. In many ways, 2020 became a year of silence. I kind of liked the quiet.
A line drawing by my youngest daughter. I love the graphical, linear quality of the work, particularly the tree. I often find the mark making of young children so much more inspiring than that made by adults. It seems we often get our individual spontaneous creativity ‘taught out of us’ as we go through the education system.
This is made by Szilvia Gyorgy, one of the artists I represent at The Projectspace. Over the years, she’s become a friend and I asked her to make the cremation urn for my stepdad’s ashes. She also made this oil burner for me. She usually makes lights. It’s become a bit discoloured from the oil and I don’t know how to clean it. I hope she doesn’t see the mess I’ve made of her beautiful object.